Sarawak Chief Minister dies of heart attack

Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem has died of a heart attack, aged 72.
Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem has died of a heart attack, aged 72. PHOTO: THE STAR

KUCHING - Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, a highly popular leader among voters in his state, has died of a heart attack, The Star reported on Wednesday (Jan 11).

Tan Sri Adenan, 72, helped Malaysia's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) storm to victory in the state polls last year, securing 72 out of 82 state seats.

He had told the Bernama news agency in March last year: “Three years ago I was very sick. I was at the National Heart Institute (IJN in Kuala Lumpur) and in Singapore. And there was a time I thought I was going. I called all my relatives, my children and grandchildren.”

After BN's thumping win in the 2016 state elections, political analyst Jeniri Amir told The Sunday Times that the Adenan factor is the No. 1 reason behind the landslide victory, as the reforms the Chief Minister implemented and promises made in recent years have resonated well with the electorate.

Dr Jeniri said: "He rode on that through his political marketing, and that is why his popularity ratings in our survey reached a high of 85 per cent."

Mr Adenan passed away on Wednesday (Jan 11) afternoon at the Sarawak General Hospital in Kota Samarahan. He would have turned 73 on Jan 27.

Condolences for his wife and family have poured in since news of his death broke.

"I've received the sad news that Tan Sri Adenan Satem has passed away. I will go to Sarawak to pay my respects," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tweeted.

"He contributed greatly to Sarawak, Malaysia has lost a leader of integrity. My condolences to the family, may his soul be showered with blessings," Datuk Seri Najib added.

Youth And Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also wrote in a tweet: "Condolences to Puan Sri Jamilah and family and the people of Sarawak over the passing of Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem." 

Mr Adenan became the fifth chief minister on Feb 28, 2014, replacing Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) began his political career in 1976 when he was appointed a committee member and the party's legal adviser.

Later in the same year, he contested in elections and won twice - the first in a by-election for the Muara Tuang parliamentary constituency, and in the state election later in the same constituency.

Mr Adenan was an assemblyman for Muara Tuang from 1976 until he moved to Tanjung Datu in 2006 for the state election where he won.

He became the Member of Parliament for the Batang Sadong constituency after the 2004 general election and later was appointed as the Natural Resources and Environment Minister.

He, however, relinquished his ministerial post two years after being in office and returned to Sarawak.

In 2010, he was appointed as Special Adviser to the Chief Minister and later in 2011 as Minister with Special Functions.

The father of five had an illustrious career which included being a journalist, a teacher, a magistrate and a legal adviser prior to his win in Muara Tuang.

He received his legal education at the University of Adelaide in Australia and was once appointed as a public prosecutor in 1969 in Adelaide. He served as magistrate from 1971 to 1972 in Sarawak.

Mr Adenan was appointed as chairman of Sarawak Foundation on Feb 1, 1999 after Tun Taib gave up the post.

His appointment as the Sarawak Chief Minister was also historic, as he was the first leader of Malay descent to hold the post.

Previous chief ministers, Tan Sri Stephen Kalong and Datuk Tawi Sli were of Iban descent while Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub was of Melanau descent. Mr Taib is also of Melanau descent.

During Mr Adenan's tenure, he spoke openly about autonomy for Sarawak and the rights of Sarawakians.